How Coaching Shifts “Me to We”

Recently I attended the Global Co-Active Summit in Napa, CA. Being in a space with 650 coaches for nearly three full days is a powerful experience in itself.  To add to that, talking about what we individually and collectively do to shift the world from “Me to We” was mind-bending at times.

We learned a lot from each other, a lot about ourselves and shared how the work that we do with individuals collectively makes the world a better place.

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I have always recognized that coaching is a powerful vehicle for leadership development but have not been able to articulate this transformation in a way that felt adequate or comprehensive. I would say, “Coaching helps individuals reach their full potential so they can contribute their greatest gifts in meaningful ways.”  That didn’t quite cut it.

So when Karen and Henry Kimsey-House unveiled a new paradigm of leadership, it finally felt like I had some language to express the power of coaching.  This new paradigm confirms what I always say when working with coaching clients and nonprofit leaders.  “Everyone is a Leader”. It is a matter of identifying and reaching that untapped potential.

This new Co-Active® Dimensional Leadership™ (CDL) model demonstrates how “Everyone is a Leader” in 5 dimensions.

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Leader from Within:  It has to start with “you”, your core set of values and purpose in the world. We strive to always lead from within, aligning with our values, living authentically on purpose, with integrity. When a leader is not living in alignment with his/her values, energy that could be directed toward creating a better world is wasted.

Leader from Behind: This is the predominant dimension that coaches embody. In this dimension, your intention is to develop the leadership skills and competencies of others.  This dimension is also seen in mentoring.

Leader from Beside: This happens in true partnerships.  When you are in this dimension the focus is on how you form an alliance with your co-leader to make sure that you share a common intention.  This is the experience of mutuality, flowing with others.

Leader from the Front:  This is the dimension which traditionally is identified as “leader”. The person most visible, whose voice is heard, who stands front and center. However in this model, leader from the front has a collaborative element.  Leader from this dimension provides vision and inspires others to take action to move toward that vision.

Leader from the Whole:  This dimension was the hardest for me to grasp and I am still internalizing its meaning. This concept goes beyond vision, purpose and focuses on the BIG PICTURE, the meta-view, the energy, spirit and other elements that are in the space. It is tuning into the intuition, what else is present? Like a tuning fork, there are vibrations to tap into and fold into our awareness as leaders.

After hearing about this Co-Active Dimensional Leadership Model, we were placed in groups and had a task of a treasure hunt throughout the two days.  Through this team focused activity, ten of us moved around the dimensions of the model at different moments.  We learned from each other how each dimension presented itself.  We saw the dimensions in each other and ourselves. It was a powerful action learning experience.  Each of us learned about our natural tendencies and where we needed to stretch as leaders.

So what dimensions are natural for you? Where do you need to stretch to reach your full potential?

Notes from Leadership Advanced Milwaukee: How Nonprofits Balance Service and Advocacy

Recently, my colleague Steve Zimmerman of Spectrum Nonprofit Services and I led a session for Leadership Advanced Milwaukee on Balancing Service and Advocacy. To recap, Leadership Advanced is a cohort-based, peer-centered, professional development program. How does the program work to strengthen nonprofit leaders and create stronger communities? Check out the new Leadership Advanced Overview video.

Why Nonprofits Need to Advocate

According to the research presented in Forces for Good on the six practices of high impact nonprofits, advocacy is one of the six practices of high impact nonprofits.  Conducting programs on the ground help meet the immediate needs of constituents as well as inform the system-level reform necessary to create long-term sustainable solutions.  Advocacy in this context is used to identify changes in public behavior, laws and public policy.

Many practitioners and board members in the nonprofit sector believe that advocacy is forbidden by the IRS regulations and that nonprofits are walking a slippery slope if they venture into this arena.  Well before we even go there, why should nonprofits pursue advocacy?

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What Crutchfield and McLeod Grant state is that there is a virtuous cycle between service and advocacy.  What organizations learn from delivering direct service programs informs what is needed to improve conditions for better outcomes for constituents.  Direct service also offers channels for implementing innovative solutions.  With this knowledge, organizations are well positioned to advocate for legislation, funding and raise visibility of the importance of their causes for public benefit.

Advocacy is not Lobbying

The term advocacy often conjures a vision of lobbying.  Lobbying is a very small slice of the advocacy pie.  There are many other approaches to advocacy that don’t include influencing elected officials regarding a specific piece of legislation.  These approaches include: civic engagement (involving others in your mission); information advocacy (providing analysis of an issue); and lobbying lite (talking about issues not legislation with public officials).

Approaches to Advocacy

In our Leadership Advanced Milwaukee session, we asked whether any of the organizations represented in the group conducted advocacy activities. Three of the eleven participants acknowledged that their organizations did conduct formal advocacy activities.  Interestingly, these three organizations represented the various approaches to arrive at balancing service and advocacy.  One organization started with advocacy as its primary focus and later added direct service programs to fill a need for services.  Another organization started with direct service and recognized the importance of a voice for their cause.  The third organization began with both direct service programs and advocacy activities.

At one point in my career, I held a position as Marketing and Communications Director for a statewide advocacy organization for children and families.  Every day, I was providing information and education regarding various policies and practices that affected children and families in New Mexico. We developed campaigns to inform the public about various pieces of legislation that would negatively impact those citizens that can’t vote, children.

Only once did I need to register as a lobbyist and that was when we were engaged in the drafting of a specific piece of legislation to create a youth development fund.  In that circumstance, my time was focused exclusively on that effort, to influence policy makers and elected officials.

Before you dismiss advocacy as something your organization “can’t do” check the IRS guidelines.  An organization with a budget of $500,000 annually can legally spend $100,000 on lobbying without jeopardizing its nonprofit tax-exempt status.

How Does Your Nonprofit Advocate?

Does your organization participate in advocacy activities? Leave a comment below describing your approach. If not, think about the impact you want to make with your services. What changes in the environment would increase that impact? Those barriers to increasing impact are the place to start with advocacy activities.

Nonprofit Leaders: Are You Prepared to Pass the Torch?

Over the past 10 years, leadership development and succession planning in the nonprofit sector has been gaining increased attention.

In 2006, a national research study of nonprofit executive leadership found that 75% of leaders planned to retire  in 5 years. In 2011, the study was conducted again and although the pace of transition was dampened by the recession, executive turnover remains high.

While the economy’s recovery is still in question, the need for more nonprofit leaders is irrefutable.

The current prediction? Approximately 640,000 nonprofit leaders will be needed by 2016. What are we as a sector doing to nurture the next generation of leaders?  Is your organization prepared for a turnover in leadership?

Stay tuned for an upcoming informative webinar this spring! Webinar participants will explore strategies to strengthen nonprofit leadership and commit to the next generation of nonprofit sector leaders.

Can’t wait for the webinar to get started on succession planning?  Email me today.

Reaching the Summit with Girls on the Run

Recently I partnered with Forward Community Investments and Girls on the Run of Dane County to present a case study on capacity building and strategy development at the Girls on the Run Summit in San Antonio, TX.  We had more than 85 participants interested in learning about how to build capacity and think strategically to chart the future path of their councils.

The 2014 Girls on the Run (GOTR) Summitt. From left to right: Dennis Johnson, VP of Advisory Services of Forward Community Investments, Sara Pickard, Executive Director, GOTR of Dane County, Mary Stelletello, Principal, Vista Global Coaching & Consulting, and Mindi Giftos, Board Chair, GOTR of Dane County.
The 2014 Girls on the Run (GOTR) Summit. Dennis Johnson, VP of Advisory Services, Forward Community Investments, Mindi Giftos, Board Chair, GOTR of Dane County, Mary Stelletello, Principal, Vista Global Coaching & Consulting, and Sara Pickard, Executive Director, GOTR of Dane County.

It was wonderful to work with Girls on the Run because their vision so strongly aligns with my own personal values:  “A world where every girl knows and activates her limitless potential and is free to boldly pursue her dreams.”

The 2014 Girls on the Run Summit kicked-off in San Antonio, Texas.
The 2014 Girls on the Run Summit kicked-off in San Antonio, Texas.

Are you interested in reaching your limitless potential and boldly pursuing your dreams?  Let’s talk about how coaching can help you.

Or maybe your nonprofit organization is launching a strategic planning or capacity building initiative? Contact me today! I look forward to helping your organization reach the summit.

Equality and Equity: Our Generation’s Legacy

Growing up in Illinois, “the Land of Lincoln” I took a special interest in our sixteenth president and his efforts to create a nation where “all men are created equal” and that we are a “government of the people, by the people, for the people.

I was born a year after the Civil Rights Act was passed and two years after Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I Have A Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, commemorating 100 years since the Emancipation Proclamation.

In a legal sense, I never experienced my country’s segregation. But as I started public elementary school, these core tenets of equality (as I understood them) didn’t seem to line up with how things were done.

This experience raised my awareness of equality and equity. Equality is being treated the same. Equal opportunity, equal access to success. But when there are roadblocks to this success, equity comes into play.

Equal access doesn’t mean equal outcome. For example, even though I am allowed to apply for college using the same application process as a male in the name of equal access, this doesn’t mean we arrived at that college application investing the same level of effort or will have an equitable experience let alone the same level of success.

Difference can be correlated to inequality or diversity. How do we value the difference between one another? How do we value diversity? Equity is a way that we can arrive at a place where we can value that difference.

“Leveling the playing field” is a term used to create equity. Example: On the track, when running 400 meters, instead of placing runners at the starting line, the runners are placed in a staggered start to create equity.

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Register for the Leadership and Equity webinar on January 28, 2014.

These concepts of equality and equity are important because in our generation, discrimination is often unintentional or less overt when compared to the era of Martin Luther King, Jr.  But just because discrimination is unintentional does not mean it won’t have a lasting negative impact.

When we unintentionally surround ourselves with people just like ourselves we don’t have awareness of the roadblocks or challenges that some may face to achieve that same status.

Whether we are at a board meeting or a cocktail party, if everyone is the same race, class, gender or sexual orientation, we can’t benefit from the wisdom that comes from sharing diverse perspectives.

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Yes I am of the post-Civil Rights Act generation that did not witness segregation. There is awareness among my peers about equality. But there is less awareness and understanding of equity and why it is critical to a fair and just society.

If you have interest in exploring this topic of equality and equity, please join me and my colleague, Cheryl D. Fields on March 25, 2014 at 1pm PST/4pm EST for a webinar entitled Leadership & Equity hosted by the Leadership Learning Community. Register for the webinar today!

We will continue this dialogue and what role each one of us can play to move our world closer toward the vision shared by Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr.